GANA Presenters Discuss Changes in Fire and Energy Codes

Standards and code change discussions have been part of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Annual Conference taking place this week in Hilton Head, S.C. These included a look at changes related to both fire-rated glass and energy codes.

During the Fire-Rated Glazing Council meeting, GANA fire-rated codes consultant Thom Zaremba provided an update via webinar on some code changes related to fire-rated glass. He explained that the number of homes destroyed in recent tornados led the International Code Council (ICC) to develop a construction code specific to storm shelters, ICC 500. This is ANSI approved and has detailed provisions on how to build storm shelters.

Tom Culp discusses energy codes at the GANA Annual Conference.

He explained the code was modified to require educational facilities that have occupancy of more than 50 (including students, staff and teachers) and in areas prone to tornado windloads, to have storm shelters built in accordance with ICC 500. The shelter can be a separate building or part of the existing building. It also has to be large enough to hold all occupants during the event. In addition, exterior walls must be 2-hour fire-resistance rated fire barriers and meet missile impact and pressure hurricane requirements. Zaremba said this is significant for the fire-rated glass industry since fire-resistance rated glazing tested to ASTM E119 or UL 10 may be used in the largest size that’s been tested, listed and labeled for use as a 2-hour fire-resistance rated fire barrier wall.

“If you’re going to construct a school in one of these zones, you can make those walls almost completely out of fire-resistance rated glazing,” he explained. “This will provide significant increased use of fire-rated glass in educational occupancies.”

He also said section 716 IBC in 2018 will be re-written. This is a complete reorganization, but there are no technical changes. He explained this will simply move the current provisions into a more logical order.

Zaremba also addressed another code area that concerns sprinklers. He explained that in the last code cycle, the sprinkler industry wanted to remove/delete 703.4 from IBC; their proposal failed. He explained 703.4 prohibits the use of automatic suppression or sprinkler system if testing is required to secure a fire-resistance rating.

However, he said new developments for the 2021 cycle have begun, and a task group is considering changes to Chapter 7 of the IBC and IFC. Zaremba expects to again see the same efforts toward 703.4 from the sprinkler industry.

Speaking of the Canadian code, Zaremba said the Canadian General Standards Board has approved and published a new glazing standard, which is very closely aligned with ANSI Z97. This replaces the older wired glass safety standard. Currently, though, the Canadian Model Building Code still refers to the older standard. A task group has been assembled by the Canadian National Building Code to determine whether the new standard should be incorporated immediately or whether they will wait and go through the standard cycle, which won’t begin for approximately a year.

In the Energy Division meeting, consultant Tom Culp reviewed his energy codes update, which he had also presented to the BEC attendees last month. His question now is, “What do we want next?” He said all the national energy codes and green codes are nearly in conjunction, which means a fresh start for them all.

“So what do we want to push? How far do we push the envelope?” he asked.

He said updates to ASHRAE 90.1-2019 already started, and one area they will be looking at is thermal bridging at the window/wall interface and sunshade attachment. They will also be looking at lower whole-product solar heat gain coefficient in the south—0.22 or 0.20—as well as lower U-factors. Culp asked, “Can this be cost justified in the north?”

Speaking of the 2019 California Title 24, Culp said as of now they are not focusing on changes to prescriptive commercial fenestration requirements. Instead, they are focusing on daylighting. This is also considering a credit toward lighting designers for using envelope features that provide better daylight savings. These options could include fixed slats, daylighting distribution devices, light redistributing films, automated shades, dynamic glazing and clerestory windows.

The GANA Annual Conference concludes this afternoon. Stay tuned to USGNN™ for more event news and reports.

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